Russia has unleashed a missile barrage targeting energy infrastructure across Ukraine, hitting homes and killing at least five people in the largest such attack in three weeks, officials said.
Four people died in the Lviv region after a missile hit a residential area, governor Maksym Kozytskyi said.
Three buildings were gutted by fire after the strike and rescue workers were combing through rubble looking for more possible victims, he said.
A fifth person was killed and two others hurt in multiple strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region which targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial facilities, governor Serhii Lysak said.
Air raid sirens wailed through the night across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, where explosions happened in two western areas of the city.
Defence systems were activated around the country and it was not clear how many missiles hit targets or were intercepted.
The city’s administration said Kyiv was attacked with both missiles and exploding drones and that many were intercepted but that its energy infrastructure was hit.
Kyiv mayor and former professional boxer Vitali Klitschko said explosions were reported in the Holosiivskyi district of the city and two people were wounded in the Sviatoshynskyi district, also on the west side of the city, and cars were on fire there.
Smoke could be seen rising from a facility in the Holosiivskyi district and police had cordoned off all roads leading to it.
The alarm in Kyiv was lifted just before 8am, with the air raid sirens falling silent after seven hours.
The missile barrage hit as Russia pushed its advance in Ukraine’s eastern stronghold of Bakhmut, where a grinding fight between the two sides has gone on for six months and reduced the city to a smouldering wasteland.
It also came hours after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky on extending an agreement which allows Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports and permits Russia to export food and fertilisers.
Private electricity operator DTEK said three of its power stations have been hit. There were no casualties but the company said equipment was severely damaged.
In eastern Ukraine, 15 missiles hit Kharkiv and the outlying northeastern region, hitting residential buildings, according to governor Oleh Syniehubov. He promised to reveal more details about the scale of the damage or any casualties in Ukraine’s second-largest city.
“Objects of critical infrastructure is again in the crosshairs of the occupants,” he said in a Telegram post.
Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram there were “problems with electricity” in some parts of the city.
Odesa governor Maksym Marchenko said homes were hit and several power lines were damaged in strikes on his southern region. He said six missiles and one drone were shot down.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which is occupied by Russian forces, lost power as a result of the missile attacks, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom.
It was the sixth time the station has been in a state of blackout since it was taken over by Russia months ago, forcing it to rely on 18 diesel generators which can run the station for 10 days, Energoatom said. Nuclear plants need constant power to run cooling systems and avoid a meltdown.
“The countdown has begun,” Energoatom said.
Ukraine’s energy minister Herman Halushchenko condemned the missile strikes as “another barbaric massive attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine”, saying in a Facebook post that facilities in Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk and Zhytomyr regions have been targeted.
Ukrainian Railways reported power outages in certain areas, with 15 trains delayed up to an hour.
Preventive emergency power cuts were applied in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odesa regions, supplier DTEK said.
Mr Klitschko said 40% of consumers in Kyiv were without heating because of the emergency power cuts. Water supplies were uninterrupted, he said.
More explosions were reported in the northern city of Chernihiv and the western Lviv region, as well as in the cities of Dnipro, Lutsk and Rivne. Ukrainian media also report explosions in the western regions of Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil.
Russia has been hitting Ukraine with massive missile attacks since last October. Initially, the barrages targeting the country’s energy infrastructure took place weekly, plunging the entire cities into darkness, but became more spread out in time, with commentators speculating that Moscow may be saving up ammunition.
The last massive barrage took place on February 16.
Press Association – Hanna Arhirova and Elena Becatoros, Associated Press